Fleet News

Top car dealers get even bigger

CAR retail group Pendragon plc is now twice the size of its nearest rival after an intensive year of acquisition activity, reveals the new AM100 table of the biggest UK dealers.

The listings, published by leading automotive industry publication AM, show that the top 100 retailers now turnover more than £30bn, up £3bn year-on-year. Pendragon accounts for 10%, at £3.1bn turnover, thanks to the £230m purchase of CD Bramall (turnover in 2003: £1.65bn) in February. Its nearest competitor, the privately-owned Arnold Clark Automobiles, turns over £1.45bn.

Five other groups now have revenues exceeding £1bn: Reg Vardy (£1.326bn), the car manufacturer-owned DaimlerChrysler Retail, which owned dealerships in the London, Manchester and Birmingham regions (£1.237bn), Camden Motors (£1.101bn), Sytner Group (£1.043bn) and Jardine Motors Group (£1.007bn).

Manufacturer-owned groups have been rising through the table. DaimlerChrysler sits in fourth place after a £339m increase in turnover, while Ford Retail rose from number 28 in June 2003 to number 11. Its purchase of Polar Motors, which trades as Dagenham Motors, from Jardine Motors Group meant turnover rose from £220m to £800m. Also in the top 20 are the Renault-owned Renault Retail Group at number 13 on turnover of £633m and Peugeot's Robins & Day group at number 14 on £589m.

AM editor Stephen Briers said: 'We are seeing more consolidation in the industry as the big plcs and the carmaker-owned groups buy up smaller groups. But there is still a place for the strong regionals, which usually enjoyed better returns on capital employed, and the owner-driver single sites, which trade on their local reputations.

'The manufacturers are seeing a benefit from owning dealership in core metropolitan areas.

'These areas are high cost investments and it's essential for them to have representation to maintain their market share. But there's little evidence yet that they can make any better profits than franchised retailers.'

Despite the growing strength of the AM100, it only accounted for around half of the 2.65 million new cars sold last year, illustrating the fragmented nature of the market. The top 10 accounts for 22% of new car sales. Forty per cent of the UK's 5,900 franchise points are owned by the AM100, with the top 20 accounting for half of these.

'We expect more groups to join the billion-pound club over the next 12 months, including Inchcape and Lookers – currently 8th and 9th – which have both outlined plans to expand their businesses,' adds Briers.

  • For more details about the AM100, contact AM editor Stephen Briers on 01733 468261 or email: stephen.briers@emap.com.
  • To order a copy of the AM100 supplement go to www.am-online.com and click on the AM100 link.
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